SKOWHEGAN, Maine — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through its partner Viridian Health Management, has identified Kennebec Valley Community College and 12 other Somerset County employers that have voluntarily chosen to participate in the National Healthy Worksite Program.
National Healthy Worksite Program is a new initiative aimed at reducing chronic disease and building a healthier, more productive U.S. workforce.
The initiative primarily focuses on small and mid-sized employers.
CDC’s National Healthy Worksite Program is supported through the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, and is designed to assist employers in building successful workplace wellness programs by implementing science-based disease prevention and wellness strategies to help reduce chronic diseases. All program and implementation support to participating employers will be provided by Viridian over a 12-month period. Viridian was selected as an implementation partner through a competitive process.
“Employers can increase productivity, cut health care costs and reduce the burden of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and other health problems in their workforce by making it easier for their employees to be physically active, eat healthy foods, and not smoke,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., in a press release.
Somerset County is one of eight communities across the country chosen to participate in the NHWP because of its high rates of chronic diseases and health risk behaviors such as smoking and physical inactivity. Somerset County also has the community resources to support a sustainable workplace health program for the 13 participants, such as proximity to hospitals and existing community health promotion programs.
The Somerset employers selected as program participants are: Backyard Farms LLC, Somerset County Jail, Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center, and Hi-Tech Software Solutions, all of Madison; Maine School Administration District 53, the town of Pittsfield, and NE Environmental Services/Ne Installation Services/NE Scaffolding Services, all of Pittsfield; Good Will of Hinckley; Maine Regional School Unit 19 of Newport; Waste Management Disposal Services of Maine of Norridgewock; Skills Inc. of St. Albans, Kennebec Valley Community College of Fairfield, and Skowhegan Savings Bank of Skowhegan.
Employers in the eight communities volunteered to participate and were chosen based on interest and industry diversity. Each employer will receive intensive support and expertise in developing a combination of interventions. Employers can choose which strategies to implement that support physical activity, good nutrition, and tobacco-use cessation.
Examples include voluntarily choosing:
- Nutrition counseling/education, worksite farmer’s markets, menu labels on healthy foods in cafeterias and vending machines, and weight counseling.
- Tobacco-use cessation counseling (including quit lines and health plans) and tobacco-free campus policy.
- Physical fitness counseling and walking clubs.
In addition to the 13 participating employers, resources also are being made available to Somerset County employers that were not selected to formally participate in the program. For this larger group of Somerset County employers, health promotion experts will provide some training, tools, networking and mentoring opportunities.
At the end of the program, national evaluation will show best practices and models on how to successfully implement workplace health programs in small workplaces more broadly.
“Through this new initiative, employers can help lead efforts in preventing chronic diseases by adopting strategies that encourage employees to improve their health,” said Ursula Bauer, PhD, M.P.H., director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, in a press release.
For additional information, please contact Denise Delorie, NHWP community director for Somerset County, at ddelorie@Viridianhealth.com, and visit the NHWP website at http://www.cdc.gov/